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News - Date: 10 October 2021
Written by: Godfrey Mandiwana / Viewed: 1030
An elderly woman, Dorah Tshivhase Munyamela (89) of Khalavha near Thohoyandou, makes a living by recycling waste egg cartons to craft wonderful traditional decorative bowls.
Munyamela explains that she starts off by tearing the egg cartons into tiny pieces and then puts them in a large bowl with enough water to completely cover them. She adds a couple of scoops of laundry soaps and soaks the carton chips for several hours.
“I knead it until it is fairly smooth and knead it again. It should be mixed well until the pulp is ready to use. When the pulp is ready, it will feel like clay. This mixture is my clay; there is no need to buy clay every time,” she says.
“I make pots, bowls and mugs and put them in an open space for a few hours to dry out. When my bowls are dry, I smear glue to paste lime stones and sand as my decorative style before painting them. I use different colours, depending on different cultures,” Munyamela adds.
“People can use the small bowls to store small items like jewellery and buttons. These bowls can also help you organise different kinds of beads. I collect calabashes from the mealie field and decorate them with colourful beads. I make traditional bracelets and traditional ties for those who like wearing traditional attire,” she says.
“I once displayed my artwork at the Thohoyandou Arts and Culture Centre and later withdrew them because I discovered that people in charge of the centre were selling my products at high prices and paying me little money. Those people were benefiting a lot out of my sweat, and it was a very painful experience,” she says.
“I don’t regret withdrawing them because tourists are buying them straight from my home. I have already displayed them in Kempton Park’s Oliver Tambo Centre and Ghanaians bought my products,” says Munyamela.
Munyamela’s son, Mr Moses Tshivhase, says their home has turned into a tourism centre. “I support my mother by collecting waste egg cartons and also advertising them to possible buyers,” he adds.
Ms Dorah Tshivhase Munyamela of Khalavha displays her artwork, made by recycling waste egg cartons. Photo: Godfrey Mandiwana.